Newsflash! Neckties are dead

Our current campaign is a global war against that yoke of uniformity, the neck tie. There can be no logical explanation why people continue to tightly tie strips of cloth round their throats and then dangle them on their chests.”

This was blogged on 16 October 2005, but the real campaign against the necktie started in practice in the 90’s with the wearing of silly socks on Fridays. The more radical followers of the movement also began wearing outrageous and unseemly ties to draw attention to the folly of the fashion convention.

The recent (2017) neck-naked appearances of those prisoners of convention and foremost icons of the stiff upper lip Society, HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, KG, KT, PC, ADC(P), HRH Prince Henry of Wales, KCVO and the Obamas indicates their clear support for the campaign and clearly demonstrates that the campaign is all but won. (The speculation that they read this blog can not be confirmed.)

no necktie nobles.jpg

New Zealand’s Parliament has now ruled that ties are no longer requires as part of men’s appropriate attire in Parliament – presumably a standard which could be applied nation-wide.

At last we are unshackling the yoke of obsolete convention!

Where to find happiness

This is a poem by Lidi de Waal

die lewe is te kort daarvoor

om geluk elders te bly soek

of om daarvoor te bly sit en wag

geluk is nie iewers anders nie

dis nie in ń ander dorp

of ń beter blyplek nie

dis nie in volgende week of volgende jaar nie

dis nie by ń ander partner

of beter vriende

of ń ander werk nie

geluk is hier waar jy is

geluk is in die vrede binne in jou

in die klein stukkies vreugde

wat soms in jou eie hart opwel

New Human Rights

It has been some time since 2042 when duty to community prevailed over individual rights.

After the almost impenetrable smog of fakenews in the early 2020’s, there were many hard fought court actions seeking ways to promote the truth. The right to the truth was first espoused in the Senate Impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump and later entrenched in the AllNations Declaration of Rights of 2031.

Now in 2060 it has long been accepted that there is great harm to society for an individual to fail to disclose the truth. The historical sacrosanct right to silence had led to far too many injustices; tragedies which could have been avoided; vicious murderers, rapists and pederasts who escaped liability to strike again and again.

Ways to obtain the truth from alleged criminals are strictly controlled and are under direct supervision of a judge who only orders the administration of truth serum after clear supporting evidence of involvement in crime.

The veracity of elected representatives including the Universal Head of State is monitored by truth sensor apps which display signs if speakers are deliberately not accurate in what they say.

It has become very difficult to prevent the actual truth from disclosure. Marketing was prohibited. Information is accurate and individuals easily obtain relevant information they require, tailored to their needs from GlobalTruth, Google’s successor..

Many of the old rights contained in the United Nations Declaration in 1948 have become obsolete and removed or changed over time.

GlobalRule which was enabled after Universal Surveillance meant privacy was obsolete; warfare became impossible as hostile intent was soon detected and could be stamped out by WorldForces and human tragedy could swiftly be addressed.

The universal carbon tax had effectively extinguished global warming. Universal Basic Income had diminished the poverty gap and world population was declining. Famine was extinct.

Death from disease was eradicated and human longevity increased to 120 years placing great burden on the WorldCommunity to produce sufficient food.

 Since the rebellion of the middle-agers, refusing to serve the mandatory 30 years as pioneers on New Australia (Mars), finding more living space on Earth has become impossible.

Global Rule has eliminated conflict: wars are no more and the Global Surveillance Judicial system has made crime almost impossible – so our numbers are no longer reduced by the death sentences on major criminals or banishment to outer planets.

However, quality of life had declined and community costs to support the elderly increased exponentially after 130 years of age.

The dominant duty to community ethos over individual rights had led to universal acceptance of mandatory euthanasia.

The celebration of life of a family elder has become a major rite of family culture and is keenly anticipated.

I accepted mandatory death and cremation at 133 years of age, long ago. Nevertheless, it is quite startling to think that next year I will reach my Celebration Day.

I will sleep happily knowing my ashes will feed an apple tree in our family orchard.

Sieg HEIL – The Trump Fanfare

I must point out that we are indebted to Trump for at least one huge lesson about humanity. He has shown us that most of us will follow anyone who strikes a chord that resonates  … and keeps repeating that message. Someone who shows that it’s NOT our fault – that they (clearly identifiable others) are the ones who have caused our pain.

It helps if they live amongst us and appear to be richer, stronger or more effective than us.

Inevitably, the media are liars and on their side (which is not to say some of them aren’t …)

Conspiracies explain everything … even though we are not quite sure what they are.

I say us because it includes friends and family members

Not long ago – in our parents and grandparents day, Hitler was believed, admired and followed blindly by millions of Germans and European nations even the Duke of York, once King of England!

It doesn’t seem to matter that the demagogue is not consistent, sounds deranged and makes outrageous claims. At that last “March to save America” rally, Trump looked and sounded deranged; frantic, repetitive, unrestrained. Just appearing at that rally smacked of civil mischief, but no-one stopped the President. He was unstoppable, despite increasing incoherence and blatant lying, ranting and raving … in between a few rounds of golf.

On the other side of the political spectrum lemming like behaviour is also prevalent. Democrats in Congress all took the knee recently – a blatantly populist obeisance to the political movement condemning Police, condoning the eradication of historical and cultural icons and accepting the blame for slavery.

One can only see this type of populist endorsement inflaming conservatives who are also suffering under the economic malaise of the midWest and Deep South US.

All of these people on both sides proclaim the virtue of their beliefs and decry the baselessness and immorality of the others cause.   

It is no good pointing out misconduct and precedents. We have to find ways to do things better.

Impeachment will not help – it will merely reinforce the conspiracy and turn a maniac into a martyr.

Biden has it right – extending the hand of friendship to all. Somehow he needs to find a way to distract the Right and Unite.

Somehow faith must be restored in the electoral system. Blockchain may be the answer. Certainly technology exists that could do this.

Maybe China policy will do it – revive manufacturing lost to Asia, promote fossil free fuel technology, make hemp production an agricultural priority, ban neckties ….

Oh Come On!! Its not often I get the chance to advise a new head of state!

Early thoughts in 2021

Library Blues

Let me get it off my chest so it doesn’t fester.

I went to the library last Monday, to find it was closed from 24 December until 4 January. I couldn’t even return books.

NO READING!!

It seems counter –intuitive for libraries to be closed when most of the populace are on holiday. Surely reading is a primary leisure activity on holidays? Why are libraries not open at night, on weekends and during holidays, times when most people are at leisure?

Methinks I shall direct my inquiry to the local council and the Editor of the local paper.

Family Christmas

I reflect on the joy and warmth that is possible in a family gathering, especially where a very young person is present. Our youngest granddaughter gave rise to frequent grins and warmth by responding with smiles and laughs, twinkling her eyes. Our oldest entertained us with her frequent questions and antics.

Ten of us and 3 dogs survived a week together in a house in the bush, without major disruption and with buckets of laughs and only mild excesses. It was happy time.

Fatalism

Soberingly, I also reflect on the fact that a large number of people continue to mingle apparently uncaring about the transmission of death that they are enabling. It’s all very well choosing to risk one’s own health, but the fact is that most people are not only risking their own health, they expose others in their families and communities as carriers.

Getting people to stop and think about their own societal ripples is not easy – we are too prone to self-indulgence and the looking away from horrors.

Gratitude

I am haunted by the feeling that life is too good, it can’t last, there has to be adjustment for without bad there can’t be good, nor hot without cold, happy without sad….

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Practising gratitude also strengthens one’s humility, protecting us from arrogance.

I am grateful and often try to be humble….

The paradox of Remembrance

My cousin recently admired a wreath of white poppies placed by veterans for peace – a thought provoking demonstration.

Every year on Poppy Day I remember friends who died futilely in a colonial bush war and those scarred and embittered for life by the perfidy of Albion and the ever changing values of human kind in that little war.

I remember the father of a friend who some twenty years after ceasefire, succumbed to his anguish over his survival but his tank crew’s incineration at El Alamein.

I am moved to tears by the tributes and honour and respect shown by people of the world at the tombs of countless unknown warriors and ponder on the glory of war.

What jarred me this year as I read Facebook tributes for ancestors with the echoes of Last Post ringing in my ears, was this one: In memory of my grandfather, Arthur Imaginary, machine gunner 2nd Batt Intrepids, died 15 Mar 1915.

I wondered how many widows and orphans were the harvest of granddad’s machine gun.

…and this is only one side!

Talk about yin and yang: we glorify and honour someone while others mourn his military proficiency.

In every war, all soldiers are told God is on their side – I don’t think God takes side, S/He just keeps score. Surely priests know that?

My scepticism is also aroused by the coincident utility of military honour for all the -isms and -ists and -iots.

The iron duty imposed by the popular poem is hard to deny:

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I am the product of generations of soldiers; my father, uncles, grandfathers and my son all served in wars in distant lands.

I cannot deny that I believe in and admire soldiers. I guess that means I can’t believe that people can live in peace.

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Oh so many…

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872–1918)

A leap year

2020 is a year that leapt into the future at a time when the future was rushing towards us. The pandemic caused everyone to take a leap into the unknown to avoid terrible consequences.

Bureaucracy has been disemboweled, opposition politics have waned, instant communications have proved their worth, snap decision-making and civic obedience have became the norm.

All of a sudden, many employers have discovered they don’t need offices and they can trust employees. Teachers have enabled remote learning in numbers. The hidden dangers of cheap, off shore manufacture have been uncovered.

What are the implications?

The cruise liner industry will need to re-tool: perhaps they could be used as prisons like the sheer hulks of old. The universal basic income has suddenly attained reality. The economic imperialism of China has been unmasked.

First world countries are going to have to learn how to manufacture without cheap labour, third world countries will have to learn to establish their own industries without First World money..

The possibility of direct communication and mandating of representatives could eradicate the roadblocks and pork barrels of party combinations

Hopefully, the opportunity is taken to accelerate the new clean, renewable energy options and eliminate fossil fuel machinery, promote secure digital transactions with blockchain and return our elderly to our homes.

The industrial revolution we are experiencing will flower out of the Covid recession. Many people will lose jobs and have to transition to new careers.

We have a golden opportunity to strengthen the fabric of our society.

Those people expectorated from their careers by the new technological advances can stay at home and look after their elders and keep a closer eye on their children, instead of placing them in homes and child care.

The death traps we have designed to contain our inconvenient elderly relatives should be abolished. Attention also needs to be paid on the effects on our children of child care from babyhood.

Forward looking government will happily pay in-home carers instead of fund old age homes and child care centres.

So we have a real chance to re-build our environment and our families – let’s not misstep the leap.

Do white lives matter?

Have you heard of Senekal in the Orange Free State?

A young farm manager in the district was beaten to death and his body was hoisted on a pole in his fields by his murderers, who were stock thieves.

“… he was tortured to death. All his bones were broken. He was cremated. He was not even buried”

Over a thousand local farmers, gathered outside the Magistrates Court where the alleged murderers were to appear after arrest. The intent was to register strong protest, but things got out of hand. A Police official was manhandled, shots were fired and a Police vehicle was toppled and torched. Ho hum …. just another of many similar incidents in the world today..?

One slightly different aspect was that the farmers were all white people and the alleged criminals, Police and other officials were nearly all black people.

Many white farmers have been murdered in South Africa leading to claims that it is a politically targeted genocide. This is a topic kept burning and aggravated by the white right wing.

For years white farmers have said that they are under siege, being killed on their properties – seemingly without much state intervention.

The government’s response has been that crime finds its way into everyone’s home (which is true). And that they are doing what they can to fight it ( but farmers keep getting murdered).

Statistics suggest that the majority of victims of crime are black. Black people are the majority and are disproportionately exposed to some of the factors that fuel crime – inequality, poverty and unemployment [1]. Unemployment is estimated to be over 42% (Bloomberg).

Most large farms in South Africa are owned by white farmers. They often have large homesteads and numerous employees. The homesteads are remote and the trappings of apparent wealth must be tempting to the destitute, desperate and criminal.

South Africa is a tale of two countries and it does not take much for problems to become tribalised. It is a sign of the tensions that are always simmering just beneath the surface.[2]

After all, apartheid was the crucible where identity politics activism gained legitimacy and momentum.

Is this gruesome murder not another George Floyd type moment? A minority group claiming prolonged targeting and victimisation by an oppressive majority.

Will we see the BLM and Antifa activists come out to join the next protest – maybe they will mimic Seattle and take over the city centre of Bloemfontein?

Somehow I doubt it – in the twisted rationale of the Identity politics creed, white is wrong and black is always the victim….

So real outrage notwithstanding, the fact that it is expressed solely by whites undermines the legitimacy of the protest and presents a threat to the delicate balance in race relations and government’s ability to balance conflicting demands.

Alarmingly, these protestors expressing their genuine outrage and fears are likely to be leveraged by those on both extremes of the political spectrum seeking confrontation, which will serve their political interests.

Sadly it is not the virtuous outrage and exercise of democratic protest that will be seen, but the similarities to white lynch mobs of the Deep South US in the last century and the armed anti BLM protestors more recently…

The South African Police have never been known for their skill and subtlety in controlling mass demonstrations as Sharpeville and Marikana amply demonstrate.

We must brace ourselves for tragedy.

If the next protest included black farmers and black employees it would not be discounted as a protest of a previously privileged class bewailing discomforts long suffered by most of the rest of the population.

It is past time that all South Africans realised that they are a community, not parts of a community, each with different views of history.

Instead of looking back in anger, look forward with resolve.

I’ll say it again! All lives matter!


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54441374

[2] Ibid

Bubbles and veg

 I will confess it now – I am beginning to feel guilty about eating meat. My daughter has become a vegetarian over the last few years, for taste not ideological reasons. My guilt arises from ideological, specifically environmental reasons. I still love eating meat except for the inner organs like liver and tripe.

I guess my brothers and most of my African friends will stop reading this in disgust….

One Wednesday MC offered to make lunch for me – I rarely refuse such offers and sat down to a vegetarian meal, feeling slightly challenged. To give me a little impetus in order to meet this challenge without flinching, I cracked a bottle of bubbly after a pre-prandial lager.

With wide-eyes and a faint air of forlorn hope, she presented a very daunting veggie looking meal – I felt my teeth growing longer by the minute!

Couscous with spiced eggplant and lemony yoghurthow greenie, hippy can you get? I girded my loins with a second glass of fizz and tried to smile as I had my first tentative nibble …. Sapristi!! It was bloody marvellous!!

I finished all there was and licked my plate clean.

Somewhere in my post prandial euphoria I was dared to eat one vegetarian meal a week. I accepted with the boast that I would cook the next one and the Wednesday Lunch Club came into being. We present a meal alternately.

Herself declined to be drawn in – she has had some experience of my culinary skills. Some of my faithful blog followers may recall this culinary foray: https://sillysocksonfriday.com/2017/02/17/fishcakes/

I have not been known to avoid any opportunity to indulge my self – so my vegetarian offering was a seafood paella, cooked on the braai. If I say so myself it was pretty toothsome – my guest agreed, although this may have something to do with the bottle of her fav strawberry fizz.

Week 3 was cunningly designed by MC to indulge my longstanding craving for a burger: Lentil-Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Avocado Green Harissa

Bubbles were now mandatory and afternoon appointments were cancelled.

On Week 4, I indulged a hankering to try a platter of Tomato slices with Mozzarella Cheese and a Balsamic Vinegar dressing. Not bad …

If my brothers are still reading their eyes will be bulging.

MC was feeling the pressure, so she tried to sway me by unorthodox tactics in week 5. Veggie Wraps: Pumpkin, rocket, beetroot, capsicum, feta (plus marinated beef strips for some). One has to keep an eye on these vegetarians – they will go to extraordinary lengths to further their cause. We committed to become purists – no meat henceforth. Sheer love kept me from declining the offering, which was yummy.

I felt that a strong response was called for in week 6 and I was feeling nostalgic, so went for a double whammy: Pasta salad with peanut butter sauce  followed by  tapioca pudding with coconut and mango. (I couldn’t source sago – beloved frogs eggs of childhood). MC was highly complimentary

Week 7 was different: Miso soup, Edamame, Okonomiyaki (vegetable pancake) with Soba noodle salad and light cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries. Ah so desu ka! Domo arigato! おいしい Well done MC!

Week 8 was today and I fretted all week. Fortunately, Herself was in charge of the Commissariat and found all the ingredients for Green pesto minestrone soup followed by gingered Junket (more nostalgia). Declared to be even better than my last effort.

I freely confess that I have enjoyed every one of these meals and I now spend more time reading vegetarian recipes than following Donald Trump in the news!!

Wednesday has become a gleaming beacon day – the food and the company are excellent. Time with my daughter is gold.

I urge you all to consider vegetarianism … in moderation, perhaps.

Should you care for the recipes I am quite happy to include them in my next publication which will be an omnibus of short stories, rants, poems and recipes from sillysocksonfriday – I bet you can’t wait, y’all!

The Social Dilemma

 Be afraid, be very afraid!

I suspect some of you think I am a bit of a drama queen or a wolf-crier. Maybe both – but I urge you to watch The Social Dilemma, it is currently on Netflix.

Especially if you have children.

This documentary presents the views of a number of people who were intricately involved in designing Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest and other mainstream social media.

Reviewers have said this film is the “single most lucid, succinct, and profoundly terrifying analysis of social media ever created”

“(it) carefully details the skyrocketing levels of depression among children and teenagers; the flat-earthers and white supremacists; the genocide in Myanmar; the Covid misinformation; [and] the imperilling of objective truth and social disintegration”.

Harvard University professor Shoshana Zuboff speaks quite clearly about the profit -making orientation of digital companies like Google and Amazon (which) represent a new form of capitalist accumulation that she calls “surveillance capitalism

 Surveillance Capitalism “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data [which] are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later.”

These new capitalist products “are traded in a new kind of marketplace – behavioural futures markets.

Through the lens of surveillance capitalism’s economic and social imperatives, she lists many issues that plague contemporary society including:

  • the assault on privacy and the so-called ‘privacy paradox’,
  • behavioral targeting
  • fake news
  • ubiquitous tracking
  • legislative and regulatory failure
  • algorithmic governance
  • social media addiction
  •  abrogation of human rights
  • democratic destabilization, and more are reinterpreted and explained

As I said: be afraid….